Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! I pray you had a bountiful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Today I have the honor of interviewing Rebecca Ondov, who turned her extensive experience as a horseback guide and Ranger into the book Horse Tales from Heaven.
Rebecca, how did you get into writing?
For years I’d been working from the saddle in the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana, taking people on horse pack trips. During the winter of 1992 when I was “out of the hills” and working an off-season job, I reached in my mailbox and pulled out a Guideposts magazine. As I thumbed through the issue, an advertisement caught my eye. It said something like, “Win an all-expense paid trip to New Yo rk.” Guideposts was having a writing competition and would fly fifteen winners to New York, where they would be personally tutored by some of the top Christian authors in the world.
God resounded in my spirit, “Write a manuscript and send it in.”
Immediately I inhaled and the blood ran out of my face. “God – You don’t know who I am.”
Can you imagine telling the Creator of the Universe this? Now I feel silly, but I really said that.
Then I said, “I don’t like to write because everyone will read it – and I’m very personal. Besides, I can’t write! Every paper I’ve ever written was typed in black ink and came back all red. You’ve got the wrong gal.”
Over the next couple months, God kept prodding my spirit but fear made me want to plug my ears and sing, “La, la, la.”
The day before the deadline it was as if God placed a megaphone next to my spirit and shouted, “Write a manuscript.” So I plunked down and hammered out a story. I posted it the next day, saying, “There, God. I did it. Now I won’t ever have to write again.”
But a couple weeks later the phone rang. Out of 5400 entries, I’d won. I’m sure they thought I was breathless from excitement, but it was the icy grip of fear.
That week in New York changed my life. My personal tutor was Elizabeth Sherrill, who wrote The Hiding Place with Corrie Ten Boom and God’s Smuggler with Brother Andrew. Her compassion and love helped me overcome my fears.
Over the years I’ve learned to love to write. My mission statement is “to capture readers’ hearts through story and take them on an emotionally turbulent journey in which they discover that God has empowered them to succeed.”
What a great testimony on God’s power to overcome our fears! How many books do you have published? What are a few of your latest titles?
Four books: The Once in a Blue Moon Boot Bus (a children’s picture book), Horse Tales from Heaven: Reflections along the Trail with God, Horse Tales from Heaven: Gift Edition, and in February 2012 Heavenly Horse Sense: Inspirational Stories from Life in the Saddle will be released. I’ve also been a contributing author in Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, and Daily Guideposts.
How did you get your first book contract?
I submitted a manuscript to three publishers at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference (http://www.mounthermon.org/adult/professionals/writers-conference), and one of them wanted it.
I received my first contract from a submission at Mount Hermon too! A fabulous conference. So, what has helped you promote your books the most?
Knowing my market and praying diligently.
What mistakes or wrong assumptions did you make with the marketing of your first book?
I identified my market and started promoting a couple months later than I could have.
Is there something you did that really helped with marketing your books?
A huge portion of my market is the cowboy church, so I did direct mailings to them. I’ve also connected with my local book vendors who handle the grocery stores, airports, etc., and they’ve placed my books in tons of stores and worked with me on book signings.
Did you see God open any doors in the promotion of your books?
Yes, my first radio interview for Horse Tales from Heaven was with Janet Parshall from Moody radio, who is a horse lover.
What are your top tips for writers with their first book contract?
Listen to God’s still small voice, know your market, and pray like there’s no tomorrow.
Thanks, Rebecca! That’s great advice for all of us!
Writing for Him,